3.478 essential purpose of HUMANIST? (was no more hearts)

Willard McCarty (MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca)
Mon, 18 Sep 89 19:07:32 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 3, No. 478. Monday, 18 Sep 1989.

Date: Fri, 15 Sep 89 21:30:46 EDT
From: Brian Whittaker <BRIANW@YORKVM2>
Subject: Re: 3.443 no more hearts (62)

The question of the essential purpose of Humanist has arisen once again,
this time on the occasion of the great heart hunt.

It may be, to put the matter in good scholastic terms, that the essence
of Humanist is to provide a forum in which to discuss computing in the
humanities. I would like to suggest, if I may do so without giving offence
to any, least of all to Willard, who is an excellent first cause in all
things, that Humanist is not terribly successful as such a forum. This
lack of success derives not from any lack of interest or skill on the part
of the members but rather, I suspect, from the limitations of the medium.
There is a serious need for an exchange of computer expertise on matters other
than subjects like using spreadsheets for inventory control or computer
graphics for sales presentations. We do need a forum for the exchange of
*detailed* information about computer applications in the humanities.
Unfortunately, brevity renders most technical items on Humanist too cryptic
to be useful.

To shift from the scholastic to the Witgenstinian and ask what *is* done
successfully on Humanist, I would have to answer that the most replies
and the most precise replies have been generated by questions not about
laptop computers or OCR equipment by rather by questions like the one
about translation of saints' hearts independent of their bodies.

While some of these inquiries do not interest me, they are no more of a
nuissance for me to skip over than discussions of how to mate a 3 1/2 inch
drive to a type of computer I do not use... an issue which I assume is well
covered in the many magazines and BBSs devoted to that type of computer.

In any event, I would prefer to skim over what does not interest me rather
than risk leaving out what does interest someone else.

Brian Whittaker
Atkinson College, York University.